When you’re a child, the whole world is a blank canvas. Every situation you walk into is a sandbox, waiting for you to shape it in your imagination. As early as kindergarten or elementary school, that sandbox is turned into a cage. Adults pluck metal bars into the ground from above, like Zeus throwing thunderbolts from Mount Olympus. The bars are rules and every single one takes away a little of that blankness.
When people ask for advice around habits, most of the answers they get fall into the “do this, not that” category. Based on our own subjective experience, we all come to see some habits as good and others as bad. As a result, everybody always recommends what worked for them. The specific tactics that helped them succeed. Wake up at 5, blend your coffee with butter, use this particular pen.
Imagine there’s an old stove in your house. It’s square and has four burners. You know, the kind where you still have to light the gas with a match and pull your hand away really fast so you don’t get burned. Each of those burners represents an important area of your life: 1. Family, 2. Friends, 3. Health, 4. Work.
Remember when you first learned how to draw? Oh, the artworks that you made! You didn’t even need a model or a scene — you made it all up from scratch, using nothing but your imagination. A dragon looked like you thought a dragon should look. A house was a house in your image. What’s more, nothing had to be perfect, because you could always explain your picture to the audience.
For the past six years, I have been obsessed with habits. This obsession grew out of the realization that, as a business student in an obscure university, no teachers or classes would be enough to push me to become a successful entrepreneur.